City's Public Access Corp. Wants More $$$ From Verizon

The Philadelphia Public Access Corp., established last year to run a five-channel cable television network of public access programming, plans to tell City Council tomorrow morning that it should demand more money from Verizon, which is seeking a cable television franchise in the city for its fiber-optic FiOS network.

Verizon, in a deal negotiated with Mayor Nutter's administration this year for a proposed 15-year franchise, agreed to pay $500,000 per year for eight of those 15 years for public access operating costs and another $2.7 million for public access capital needs.  Those amounts match commitments made by Comcast, which is halfway through its 15-year franchise agreement.

The Philadelphia Public Access Corp., in testimony prepared for a City Council public hearing at 9 a.m. tomorrow, said the city is being "short-changed" by Verizon.  The non-profit's five-member board is also not happy that it was not part of the city's negotiations with Verizon.  The board will call on the city to demand $500,000 per year for each of the 15 years in the agreement.  That's $7.5 million, nearly twice what Comcast is paying.  The board will also call on the city to make Verizon start paying right away.  The current agreement says Verizon can start paying about halfway through its 15-year franchise.

Harry Mitchell, a Verizon spokesman, defended his company's terms. "It provides for a sizable funding amount for programming," said Mitchell, adding "I don't know where this is coming from."

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